The Demon and the Magician
Part Six: Ad Bellum, Act I
A large thud wakes me as my eyes, blurry and dreary, slide open to stare at the ceiling above me. Looking to my right, I see Alex’s bed empty, the blanket pulled over the edge.
“Alex?” I yawn, lifting my tired body up off the floor, moonlight filtering into the room from the large window behind me. “Did’ya fall off?”
Looking over the bed, I can see his body lying on the floor, the blanket wrapped haphazardly around it, his muscles in spasm, writhing and contorting as he winces and cries softly. His eyes are shut tight, and fists are clenched.
“Alex!” I exclaim as I drop to his side, grabbing his shoulders and looking down at him. “What’s wrong? C’mon, wake up! Snap out of it! Alex!”
With a loud gasp his eyes shoot open as his body stiffens, his limbs stretching outward, pushing against the bed and sliding it across the wooden floor. His eyes are a pure white, no pupils to be seen. I hold him tightly, not sure what to do. His muscles begin to loosen under the taught skin, the joints cracking softly as he relaxes, his eyes closing once more. The rise and fall of his chest is rapid, and sweat covers his skin. Carefully, I lift him back up and onto the bed, throwing the rest of the blanket onto the floor behind me.
“Alex,” I say softly, placing my hand on the side of his face, “please wake up.” His skin burns underneath my palm. “Please be okay.”
Quietly returning to my small mat on the floor, I sit down and reach up, clasping Alex’s left hand. I feel something hot and sticky, and pulling my hand to my face I can see the dark crimson of Alex’s blood staining my skin. I look at it for a moment and watch as it practically comes to life, lifting upwards into the air as it returns to the wound, seeping into the cracks of his palm before fresh skin seals it away.
“Adeon,” a rough voice calls out to me. Glancing up, I look at Alex’s face: his eyes—barely open—are turned towards me, his mouth opened slightly as he breathes deeply.
“Alex!” I say, sitting on my knees as I lean into look at him. “What the fuck just happened? Are you okay?”
“I’ll be fine,” he whispers, smiling weakly. “It was just a nightmare.” I look at him with a worried frown, placing my hand gently on his chest as he reaches up to clasp it. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Does this happen often?”
“Only once a year,” he answers.
I pause for a moment and sigh carefully, squeezing his hand. “What is your nightmare about?” I ask, curiosity overtaking me. “Can you tell me?”
He exhales slowly and looks out the window over my shoulder. “Bright burning light, screams, and searing pain. That’s all it is. Sometimes for a few seconds; sometimes a few hours. I can feel the same pain that came over me hundreds and hundreds of years ago as my body was cursed with immortality.”
Silence falls over us as I lean my head down onto his chest. His hand, still warm and shaky, breaks from my own and falls into my messy black hair, sliding gently across my head.
“It seems that we both are plagued by our pasts,” I say softly. “We both are pained by our nightmares.” Closing my eyes, I can hear his heartbeat, the warm pulse shooting through his body and into mine. On an impulse, I sit up and climb into his bed, longing to immerse myself in that soft energy that emanates from him like light. My chest, bare and cool, connects with his back, hot and moist with sweat. My arms, steady and strong, wrap around his frame, fragile and shaking with pain.
“Adeon?” Alex says softly as he turns his head slightly. “What are you doing?”
“No more nightmares,” is all that I can say as I close my eyes and pull him securely against my body.
I wake to a gentle tugging around my waist, skin sliding against skin as a warm hand pulls away from my body. Turning slightly, I raise my head and look up at Adeon who is sitting up in bed, a lazy hand rubbing sleepy eyes. I feel a cool rush of air slide in slowly from the open window, caressing my body and sending waves of chills across my skin. Even after thousands of years of travel, I still crave the warmth of the Mediterranean and that familiar golden sun.
“Alex,” Adeon says softly, placing a hand on my shoulder, “are you feeling any better?”
Lifting myself up and pulling the blanket around my bare skin, I turn to face him. With a slow nod of my head and a weak smile on my face, I lift my tired arms and wrap them around his shoulders. My skin welcomes the soothing heat from his body with a tired sigh.
“You scared me,” he says slowly, tightening his arms around me.
“I’m sorry,” I answer as we release each other. “But thank you.”
“It’s no problem,” he answers, turning to stand. I can hear his joints cracking and popping as he stretches, the muscles flexing under his skin. “So, what are we going to do?”
“Atahela. He’s going to stop at nothing to get you now that he knows I’ve betrayed him. I’ll do my best to protect you, but….”
I give a soft chuckle and stand up, pulling the blanket with me. “You protect me?”
A flustered burn crosses his cheeks. “Y-yeah, I’m plenty strong enough!”
Nodding, I throw the blanket onto the bed and pull my dark black shirt over my cold torso. “I saw,” I answer carefully. “And so am I, so don’t worry.”
His gaze falls to the floor as he rubs his shoulder and turns around, grabbing his tattered gray shirt and jet black pants.
Reaching for my spell book, I sit down on the bed and wave my hand over it, the pages growing and flipping open to the information I seek. I scan the page, my eyes reading every bit of text, every single note, anything that I can get a hold of.
“What are you doing?” Adeon says as he sits down next to me, adjusting his shirt.
“Searching for a solution to all of our problems.”
“Oh?” he says, leaning in to look at the book. “What language is this?”
“Latin,” I answer, my eyes never leaving the page.
“What a dead language,” he scoffs. “Only the clergy use that anymore.” His eyes turn to mine as I glare up at him. “Sorry,” he says softly.
My eyes return to the text, a smirk on my face as I continue to read.
“What are you trying to do?” Adeon asks after a moment’s pause.
“Well, since I now have all of the blood crystals back in my possession, I was hoping to seal off the rips in the boundary between the Underworld and Earth.”
Silence rings loudly in the room as I turn to look up at Adeon, his face in shock as he stares down at me.
“What?” I ask.
“Do you even know the connection between this world that the Underworld?!” he cries, grabbing the collar of my shirt.
“Well, now would be a good time to tell me!” I snap back. Taking a deep breath, I lower my eyes and calm myself down. “Adeon,” I say, grabbing his hand and squeezing it gently, “I don’t know what else to do.”
His grip loosens as he stares into my eyes. “Neither do I.” Carefully, he releases my shirt and lets me take his hand as it falls down onto the bed. “Will it be permanent?”
“I don’t know,” I answer slowly. “But it will be directed at Atahela and his army, so it will buy me quite a bit of time to find a way to finish him off.”
“It doesn’t have to be just you,” Adeon says sternly as my face turns back up to his. A small smile crosses my face and flickers onto his as I close the book.
“It won’t be,” I answer. Carefully, I place my hand on his chest and slide it up to his neck, pulling the crystal off as it glows warmly in my hand. “You trust me, don’t you?”
“There’s no one left for me to trust,” he replies.